Internet censorship UAEThe TRA (Telecom Regulatory Authority) decides what internet censorship policy is in the UAE, not the telecom companies Etisalat and Du, although many residents will feel that Etisalat in particular is the decider of what is and is not allowed. This perception is possibly because there are some areas in the Du Telecom network that have no, or less, censorship of the internet, for example Dubai Media Zone and the TECOM area. The TRA has said in 2. UAE censorship policy though. For the most part, internet censorship is not overly draconian in the UAE. Certainly, much less so than somewhere like China or Iran for example.
It would be rare that any news is censored, even news critical of the UAE. The filtering policy concentrates more on pornography, dating, gambling, and other culturally or religiously offensive internet content.
For many families, the blocking of porn might be seen as a plus when considering a move to Dubai. And those who desperately want to access the blocked websites usually find a way eventually (using a VPN is one way to access blocked websites from what we've heard). The most irritating censorship is likely to be the increasing number of Wikipedia pages that are blocked; Skype (update: Skype is accessible in the UAE from 2.
VOIP websites; websites like www. Children looking for feline related material might wonder what they've done wrong when entering one particular synonym for a cat or kitten for example. Or anyone wanting to do some research into gambling or casinos will find their web searches return no results. One wonders how Dubai World (a Dubai Government owned company) ever managed to find out enough information to feel confident about investing in Las Vegas. Then again, had they been able to search more freely on the internet in the UAE, perhaps they wouldn't have lost quite so much money on their gamble .. MGM, the casino operator.
Most of the time a message will appear when a website is blocked, that makes it clear the UAE authorities have blocked the site. Occasionally though, either a blank page, or Network Error type message will appear, leaving viewers confused as to whether a site has been blocked, or there really is a problem with the website. It's not clear why the UAE telecom companies and/or telecom authorities are reluctant to let customers know about internet filtering for some sites.
List of TRA website categories to be blocked in the UAE (information supplied by the TRA - last update April 2. Internet Content that contradicts with the ethics and morals of the UAE including Nudity and Dating. Internet Content that contains material which expresses hate to religions.
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Internet Content that is not inline with UAE Laws. Internet Content that allow or assist users to access Blocked Content.
Internet Content that directly or indirectly constitute a risk on UAE internet users such as Phishing websites, Hacking tools & Spywares. Internet Content that is relevant to gambling.
Internet Content that provide information on purchasing, manufacturing, promoting and using illegal drugs. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports on internet censorship in the UAE2. HRW report on UAE (released 2. January 2. 01. 1) noted that websites that were blocked in 2.
UAE Hewar) with its discussion forums (topics include freedom of expression and politics) along with its Facebook and Twitter pages."The UAE should take a long, hard look at what happens to governments that suppress the rights of its citizens to speak out or that think they can control the information people share. Tunisians are not the only ones in the Arab world who will insist that no government has the right to trample their rights." - strong comments from Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a 2.
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January 2. 01. 1 press release.